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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020 2 years ago

Homemade Honeymoon: Hamlin couple celebrates married life during self-quarantine

Despite having to cancel their honeymoon plans due to COVID-19, Hamlin newlyweds Stephanie Machado and Jesus La Rosa are having a blast together.
by: Tim Freed Former Managing Editor

One Hamlin couple in self-quarantine has bigger plans than just searching grocery store aisles for toilet paper — they’re celebrating their honeymoon.

Residents Stephanie Machado and Jesus La Rosa were married earlier this month on March 7 at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, but shortly after had to cancel their honeymoon plans in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. 

The couple thought at first they could simply change up their plans and stay in a cabin in Asheville, North Carolina, but leaders declaring a state of emergency threw off those plans, as well.

And so the newlyweds were forced head back home March 9 and have spent their honeymoon there ever since — but the situation didn’t get them down. 

“I would say that our friends and family that know us would call us a pretty positive duo,” Machado said. “We’re usually trying to make the best of everything — especially my husband, he is like Mr. Positivity. ... I think we quickly saw that this was something that had to happen, so we can mope here at home or we could make the best of it.”

They started turning everyday routines into special, romantic moments throughout a home honeymoon. Instead of lounging by the pool at a resort, the couple kicked back and relaxed in their backyard by a kiddie pool they bought at Walmart. Instead of a fishing excursion, the couple cast fishing lines in a lake in their neighborhood. Instead of an adventurous hike along a trail, the couple took a walk through the neighborhood.

The couple has also eaten a romantic dinner by candlelight in their home and soaked their feet in the tub as a “spa day.”

“It kind of started as a joke,” Machado said. “We were doing different home activities like laundry and making the bed and we said, ‘This is our honeymoon now,’ and it turned into our home honeymoon. We started actually planning out things to do at home that simulated what you would do on an actual honeymoon.

“It sounds super cheesy, but we’ve been able to pretend or just have some fun with the fact that we’re kind of stuck at home,” she said.


Machado and La Rosa have been documenting their home honeymoon on Instagram. The couple has enjoyed hearing from the community — even from other couples going through similar situations with weddings getting postponed.

“We’ve gotten so many messages on Instagram of people saying, ‘Thank you so much for sharing some positivity during this time,’” Machado said. “A lot of people, frankly, are scared. For us, we feel safe and OK, but, for a lot of people, they’re anxious during this time, and to have something to smile at and laugh at and bring some joy to people honestly makes us feel really good.”

“I try to live by this everyday: You’ve got to make the best out of every situation you have, trying to make everything as positive as possible,” La Rosa said. “I tell Steph all the time that sometimes someone seeing you make that positive spin on something can dramatically change their outlook on whatever they’re doing. … You make the world a better place — at least for that moment.”

The couple said they hope to take a trip — a “honeymoon 2.0” — once travel is allowed and the virus is contained.

For now though, the newlyweds plan to remain in home honeymoon mode.

“It’s something that’s going to be a memory that we’re going to carry with us,” Machado said. “We’ll never forget our honeymoon, that’s for sure.”

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Tim Freed was the managing editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer. 


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